Kids get top secret surprise homecoming at school in Newport News

Staff Sergeant Zachary Holder embraces his daughter Paizley during a surprise homecoming in Newport News on Feb. 8, 2018.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — At R.O. Nelson Elementary School in Newport News, a top secret surprise was in the works courtesy of the U.S. Army.

Staff Sergeant Zachary Holder had come home from deployment in Afghanistan. He hadn’t seen his kids, 10-year-old Marek and 8-year-old Paizley in nine months.

“Just got back in from deployment and wanted to surprise our kids, they thought I was coming back in at the end of February,” Holder said. “We set this up so I was actually able to come home earlier and kind of wanted to give them a little surprise”.

They along with the rest of the students thought they were there for the I-Care Project for the unit in Afghanistan that the school adopted.

“So it just so happened to have fallen on the month that I’m coming home, so it was perfect timing,” Holder said.

As the remaining students filed into the auditorium, Zachary and his wife Christa made their way to the stage.

Marek and Paizley still didn’t have a clue.

“We wanted it to be something special but I’m definitely ready to get out there and give my kids a hug,” Holder said.

As school staff warmed up the crowd, councilwoman Pat Woodbury delivered the surprise.

“Please join me in welcoming home Staff Sergeant Zachary Holder!”

This moment was not lost on the students.

There were tears of joy from Paizley and a smile from ear to ear from Marek.

“How does it feel baby?” Holder said as he held Paizley. “Good,” she said.

And mission accomplished for this surprise.